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Friday, October 10, 2008

Dwayne Taylor seeks election for the Florida Legislature despite atrocious record and failures at the Daytona Beach City Commission

Daytona Beach Commissioner Dwayne Taylor

Despite mounting corruption complaints against the Daytona Beach City Commission, including a failing grade in a state audit that revealed multiple ethics violations and widespread misuse of taxpayers funds, Commissioner Dwayne Taylor is running for election to the Florida House of Representatives.

Taylor's record at the City Commission is abysmal, he has approved every measure that raised the tax burden of Daytona Beach citizens while awarding millions of dollars to multi-millionaire campaign contributors and friends to fund various pet projects and personal hobbies. This waste is one of the main reasons for the current financial crisis the city is undergoing.

Another distressing subject of controversy is his refusal to abstain from voting on items that personally benefitted him and his friend, Commissioner Rick Shiver. See article: Daytona Public Officials Conflict of Interest: Shiver and Taylor.

Taylor also was instrumental in the approval of a controversial and unbudgeted 8% across-the-board salary increase to city employees regardless of merit. This happened while at the same time, the taxpayers funding this gift were suffering under severe financial stress due to the local economic depression, rising city taxes, crime and unemployment (See related article: Daytona Beach Job Woes Worsen).

"The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it".
Dr.Joseph Mengele
German Nazi concentration camp physician at Auschwitz-Birkenau, known as the Angel of Death

Florida House, Northeast Region DistrictsTaylor is running for the Democratic ticket to the District 27 Florida House of Representatives, an area that covers Volusia County, including areas of Daytona Beach. The post is currently occupied by representative Joyce Cusack (D), who is vacating it due to term limits. She was first elected to the House in 2000, when she defeated Pat Patterson for the District 26 seat, and was subsequently re-elected in 2004 leading a trend of incumbent representatives winning re-election to the Florida House of Representatives.

Taylor's campaign is heavily funded by special interests in Daytona Beach. The same interests that have benefited by the largesse of the City Commission.

Thanks to his large campaign chest he was able to win election in the Democratic Primary against much better qualified contenders. The final election is scheduled for November 4th where Taylor faces independent Maureen Monahan. Monahan has rejected funding by special interests which demanded that she be sympathetic to their businesses and causes in exchange for financing her campaign.

Florida House, District 27The District 27 covers an area in north Volusia County that includes Holly Hill, Daytona Beach and parts of Ormond Beach, South Daytona and Deland and Port Orange. The area includes 132,503 residents. For more statistics on District 27 click here

Taylor must overcome the bad headlines and dismal record at the City Commission. He still might have a shot given Monahan's refusal to accept special interest money. In Daytona Beach, political campaigns are won not by ideas or qualifications but by the sheer power of funding and the influence of the five "apostles" that fund and control local officials.

While it is well known that the Rule of Law is a foreign concept to Daytona Beach public officials, we gleam these comments from Taylor that just baffle the mind:

“Nothing gets built in my district without my approval”

“We [Commissioners] normally vote in support of the Commissioner whose zone is involved...”,

Dwayne Taylor, 2006
Obtained from witness testimony in documents from a corruption complaint filed with the FBI against the Daytona Beach City Commission

Presumably, these private arrangements amongst city commissioners are for like-kind favors in return when they need political allies to pass or kill a proposal at the request of a mutual crony or friend. Pre-arranging voting deals are illegal under Florida or Federal Law, even in cities that do not abide by the rule of law.

Taylor will finally be gone from the city but the damage that has been inflicted on Daytona Beach by corruption and the disastrous crony-friendly policies of the City Commission will take many years to overcome.

The small number of opponents might be one thing in his favor. While the other candidate is better prepared and has more substantial experience, she lacks enough name recognition. It is true what they say in Hollywood: "I don't care what you say about me... Just make sure you spell my name right". Many incompetent and dishonest politicians have gotten into power by the sheer force of crony-funded advertisements, much to the later detriment of the people they were supposed to serve.

Taylor's resignation: A short-lived celebration

The celebration at Taylor's recent resignation from the City Commission was short lived. His resignation was timed to ensure his successor would not be elected by the people of Daytona Beach, but appointed by his fellow Commissioners and their friends, all without public input.

However, this obvious abuse of power has already created a public outcry and the formal submittal of signed complaints by hundreds of residents. So far, these complaints have been ignored by the commissioners.

Taylor's fellow Commissioner, Rick Shiver is struggling among several criminal complaints as a result of the sale of his home to the city he represents by over twice its Just Value. The home was quickly ordered demolished right after the initial citizens complaints surfaced about the lack of transparency in the deal.
Taylor supported the purchase of Shiver's home. Like Taylor, Shiver is also a former firefighter and they are both on the union's retirement plan they voted for.

According to Daytona Post sources, Taylor also received $20,000 in funds from the CRA a couple of years ago. He subsequently filed bankruptcy and never repaid these moneys to the taxpayers. It was reported that his salary at the City Commission has a small garnishment to help pay this debt. It is unclear what interest rate, if any, the city is charging Taylor.

Daytona's CRA Slush Fund

The CRA is an artifice created by the City Commission to divert taxpayers funds, ostensibly to fund projects in blighted areas. The fund management, however has been subject of many complaints citing multiple abuses and lack of transparency.

Today, the CRA funds are widely considered to be a secretive slush fund that city management utilizes to fund diverse pet projects with little oversight. The ultimate beneficiaries are often the same special interests that have funded Taylor's rise to power.

Over 16% of every tax dollar in Daytona Beach ends up in this slush fund with no taxpayer oversight. Over the past ten years alone, this represents over $200 million which have been squandered by local officials, much of which ending up in the pockets of the five apostles, an astonishing return for their campaign financing activities.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing
Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
Irish Statesman and Philosopher

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